Words by Erin MacLeod
A Tribe Called Red make some of the heaviest music out there–taking traditional Native American pow wow music and combining it with what seems like the baddest bass around. Listening to their tunes it’s evident that there’s a strong Jamaican influence–and sure enough, when interviewing ATCR–Deejay NDN, Shub and Bear Witness–they all expressed their love for dancehall. In particular, Bear, who has quite a reputation in Ottawa, Canada for earning forwards as a dancehall DJ, explained his love of riddim: “I grew up in Toronto with dancehall all around me. I was a big fan and a big jungle fan too, back in the day. I’ve also found that a lot of Aboriginal people love dancehall. I’ve always found it a funny thing, being the Indian dancehall DJ, but as I’ve played for more and more native audiences, people bug out for it. There is something in it. It’s got that same heartbeat rhythm to it.”
Though also experimenting with dubstep, moombahton and more, ATCR’s most recent track makes use of the catchiest bit of Super Cat’s “Scalp Dem,” putting the focus on the line “Indians from all directions,” adding traditional singing, and accompanying it with a driving, relentless beat makes for a track that takes off in all directions. Bear himself, who creates all of ATCR’s videos and live visuals, put together a fitting companion piece that combines a range of imagery–stereotypical appropriations alongside the Iroquois Thunderheart dancers and much, much more. Check it (below) and get your hands on ATCR’s excellent remix of Northern Cree’s “Red Skin Girl” from Masalacism records here.